Friday, March 9, 2012

Danica Patrick dialing back NASCAR expectations

    It appears after a rough Sprint Cup debut at Daytona and more frustrations last week in her Nationwide Series race at Phoenix, Danica Patrick is ready to dial back expectations.

    “I definitely feel like I want to do well for so many people,” Patrick said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I think that I gave myself maybe a little bit of false expectation about running this year for the (Nationwide) championship and probably using those words ‘for the championship.’

   “It’s my first-ever full year, and what I’ve done still doesn’t add up to one year, and I didn’t have anything before that at all in stock cars.”

   After getting involved in three wrecks at Speedweeks – in a qualifying race, the Nationwide race and Daytona 500 – Patrick ran just the Nationwide event at Phoenix. But 30 laps in the race, she was a lap down. She finished three laps down and declined all media interviews after the race.

   Two races into the 2012 Nationwide season, Patrick is 21st in series points. In the offseason, she repeatedly said she believed she and her No. 7 JR Motorsports team could be contenders for the championship.

   Patrick is also running 10 cup races this season.

    “I think I need to remind myself every now and again of really where the expectation level should be, and where mine should be,” she said. “And I can’t let all of the exposure and hype and hope – I'm serious when I say ‘hope’ - I can’t let that be something that makes me feel like I have to do well.”